Kong

King Kong is frickin’ awesome. I think from now on, Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens should make every movie. Except for the ones by Wes Anderson and the Coen Brothers.

Sure, it’s three hours long, and I could tell it was three hours. Not that I was wanting it to be over, just that I was aware of how long it was taking. That’s the closest I can get to a criticism of it — there was nothing in the movie that was bad or completely superfluous, but it still felt like a lot of stuff. I wish they’d spent more time on the island and less with acts 1 and 2. Just about everything that happens on the island is just spectacular, the Tyrannosaurus fight in particular, so I wish there’d been more of that.

I don’t have much to say other than that it’s a damn fine movie, the best I’ve seen this year. I’d heard reports that it was very moving, so I was expecting to get all caught up in that. I didn’t, really; I cared what was happening, but wasn’t particularly moved by it except for the action sequences.

One of the things that impressed me about the Lord of the Rings movies was how Jackson made them as movies, that is, combining elments of horror B-movies, science fiction, fantasy, genuine horror movies, melodrama, pirate movies, battle scenes, etc. to tell what could be a pretty dry fantasy story. King Kong isn’t quite as epic, but it’s definitely a movie made by someone who loves movies and hates pretension. Of course there are all the B-movie elements, but there’s also a sense throughout that it’s all charming and funny. The T. Rex scene isn’t just spectacular, but it’s genuinely funny in how it just keeps building. All the bug scenes are intended for the schock value gross-out, and they’re just fun. And Ann and Kong’s scenes are designed around vaudeville slapstick and a child’s tantrum, and it just works, and it’s just charming. Never too corny to work, and never too absorbed in irony or self-reference. It’s just designed to be enjoyed.

I knew going in that I was going to like Naomi Watts, because I think she’s just great in everything I’ve seen her do. I was surprised that I liked Adrian Brody — he’s pretty much useless to the movie, in retrospect, but while it’s going on you always get the sense that he’s just supposed to be there. What really surprised me was Jack Black; his character is supposed to be smarmy and unethical, but genuinely passionate about what he’s doing, and undeniably charismatic. So it turned out to be perfect casting, and he did a good job with it. He’s actually got more of a character arc than anyone else, including Ann.

And the more I think about it, I guess I have to change my story about not being moved. The best scenes are still the action sequences, but the one that really got me on an emotional level is when they’re back in New York and do the Kong show at the theater. The combination of the ape chained up, and the dancers in black-face, all just hit me as “this is the most depressing thing I’ve ever seen.” Even more than the ending. (Which I won’t ruin here.)

4 thoughts on “Kong”

  1. Saw it late, enjoyed the hell out of it (for much the same reasons you did).

    It’s worth noting that the “native dancers” in blackface were dressed in the costumes worn by Skull Island extras in the 1933 original…perhaps acknowledging how attitudes have changed since then?

  2. Ah, I didn’t know that. That’s a pretty cool reference to the original, although I’m sure some yahoo somewhere is using that in an argument that the new version is “too PC.”

    And since I just re-read the post for the first time — I meant to say that they should’ve spent less time in acts one and three, not two. I actually got kind of bored with everything once they left the island, when it should’ve been the climax.

    And I said it was my favorite movie of the year when I was still basking in the afterglow. After time and careful consideration, though, I have to award the coveted Chuck’s Favorite Movie of 2005 award to Serenity.

  3. I thought it was the saddest movie I’ve ever seen. Like—EVER. Not depressing, just sad. I was SOBBING.

    If I ever watch it again, I think I’m going to have to just turn it off after Kong and Ann have their moment of sunset-watching and falling asleep in each other’s arms, and just pretend they live happily ever after.

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